History of the hippie movement  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The hippie subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States during the early 1960s and then developed around the world.

Its origins may be traced to European social movements in the 19th and early 20th century such as Bohemians, and the influence of Eastern religion and spirituality. From around 1967, its fundamental ethos — including harmony with nature, communal living, artistic experimentation particularly in music, and the widespread use of recreational drugs — spread around the world during the counterculture of the 1960s, which has become closely associated with the subculture.

Contents

Precursors

Classical culture

The hippie movement has found historical precedents as far back as the Mazdakist movement in Persia, whose leader the Persian reformer Mazdak, advocated communal living, the sharing of resources, vegetarianism, and free love. A 1967 article in Time Magazine asserted that the hippie movement has a historical precedent in the counterculture of the Ancient Greeks, espoused by philosophers like Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics. The article also claimed that the hippies were influenced by the ideals of Jesus Christ, Hillel the Elder, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, and others. Some have pointed to the short-lived Merrymount colony in 1625 (allegorically portrayed by Nathaniel Hawthorne in "The Maypole of Merry Mount)" as the first hippie experience on the American continent.

19th- and early 20th-century Europe

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the German Lebensreform movement emphasized the goodness of nature, the harms to society, people, and to nature caused by industrialization, the importance of the whole person, body and mind, and the goodness of "the old ways". The German youth movement known as Der Wandervogel grew out of Lebensreform as a countercultural reaction to the organized social and cultural clubs that centered on German folk music. In contrast to these formal clubs, Wandervogel emphasized amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer, Wandervogel attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors.

Nature Boys of Southern California

During the first several decades of the 20th century, these beliefs were introduced to the United States as Germans settled around the country, some opening the first health food stores. (For example, Santa Barbara's first health food store was opened in 1934 by Hermann Sexauer, who was born in Teningen, Germany on 4 March 1883 and died in December 1971; he left Germany in 1906, arrived in New York, ended up in California and lived a pacifist, raw vegan, non-conformist lifestyle.) Many moved to Southern California, where they could practice an alternative lifestyle in a warm climate. In turn, young Americans adopted the beliefs and practices of the new immigrants. One group, called the Nature Boys, who included William Pester, took to the California desert, raised organic food, and espoused a back-to-nature lifestyle. eden ahbez, a member of this group, wrote a hit song, "Nature Boy'", which was recorded in 1947 by Nat King Cole, popularizing the homegrown back-to-nature movement to mainstream America. Eventually, a few of these Nature Boys, including the famous Gypsy Boots, made their way to Northern California in 1967, just in time for the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

Beat Generation

The Beat Generation, especially those associated with the San Francisco Renaissance, gradually gave way to the 1960s era counterculture, accompanied by a shift in terminology from "beatnik" to "freak" and "hippie". Many of the original Beats remained active participants, notably Allen Ginsberg, who became a fixture of the anti-war movement. On the other hand, Jack Kerouac broke with Ginsberg and criticized the 1960s protest movements as an "excuse for spitefulness". Bob Dylan became close friends with Allen Ginsberg, and Ginsberg became close friends with Timothy Leary. Both Leary and Ginsberg were introduced to LSD by Michael Hollingshead in the early 1960s, and both became instrumental in popularizing psychedelic substances to the hippie movement.

In 1963, Ginsberg was living in San Francisco with Neal Cassady and Charles Plymell. Around that time, Ginsberg connected with Ken Kesey, who was participating in CIA sponsored LSD trials, at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hospital where he worked as a night aide. while a student at Stanford. Cassady drove the bus for Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, and he attempted to recruit Kerouac into their group, but Kerouac angrily rejected the invitation and accused them of attempting to destroy the American culture he celebrated.

According to Ed Sanders, the change in the public label from "beatnik" to "hippie" occurred after the 1967 Human Be-In in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, where Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Michael McClure led the crowd in chanting "Om". Ginsberg was also at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention, and was friends with Abbie Hoffman and other members of the Chicago Seven. Stylistic differences between beatniks, marked by somber colors, dark shades and goatees, gave way to colorful psychedelic clothing and long hair worn by hippies. While the beats were known for "playing it cool" and keeping a low profile, hippies became known for displaying their individuality.

One early book hailed as evidencing the transition from "beatnik" to "hippie" culture was Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña, brother-in-law of Joan Baez. Written in 1963, it was published April 28, 1966, two days before its author was killed in a motorcycle crash.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History of the hippie movement" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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